Occupational Therapist, yoga

“Traditional” OT vs. Yoga

This week will be short and sweet since I am participating in the Florida Occupational Therapy Annual Conference. I had a parent reach out regarding wanting traditional occupational therapy. For the most part, I use Yoga For The Special Child (R). I wanted to take this opportunity to explain how this part of occupational therapy. If you are a therapist reading this, I break this down even more in my continuing education courses.


1. I use yoga as a modality. There are all sorts of speciality practices. Some occupational therapist use water for aquatic therapy. Other therapists use horses for Hippo therapy. This is no different. If you are local, I would be happy to suggest therapists or agencies in Sarasota/Bradenton.

2. This is a bottom up approach. My goal is to calm autonomic nervous system (really watered down). When we are in a chronic state of stress or fight/flight, you can’t access other parts of the brain required for language, motor planning, eye movements, fine motor control, or executive functioning. This helps prepare the body and mind for learning. For more research on this, please see the post regarding yoga research.

3. This made moving to telehealth really easy. It translates well over this method when the student does not need hands on adjusting. There is no equipment. And, it will meet the student where they are that day. Telehealth was not appropriate for all of my current students.

4. Postures is one part of yoga. I think this is where people get the most tripped up. They assume that is all I am doing. The other thing is yoga is a practice. I also teach them yoga off the mat. How do we use the breathing, postures, or any other coping skill out in the real world? Yoga has nothing to do with a mat or what you are wearing. (Lack of diversity in stock photos is a separate post all together.)

5. Maybe the child does not follow directions. Well, what do occupational therapists? We provide different cues or hand over hand assistance until they understand what it is that I am asking them to do. This is no different in learning any other skill. With COVID, hands on is last resort. And guess what? Students are responding with less cuing.

In a different post, I can go into what things look like on paper business wise. I also think this is how my colleagues get confused. Are you doing yoga or are you doing OT? The answer is yes.

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